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Role of Parsi community in Ice Candy Man

Question: Demonstrate how the changing peceptions of the characters towards each other is a reflection of the instability surrounding them.Answer: Actions, behaviour, gesture, sickness: these are all indications of an unconscious and involuntary mode of existence common to all which, if nothing else, shows that one is alive. The novel, Ice-Candy Man is an emotional book about “dispassion” and “fairness” by a Parsi perspective. The novelist, Bapsi Sidhwa adopts a psychoanalytic approach towards her writing inorder to reveal the revulsion of partition of the sub-continent. Sidhwa states, “I don’t have much faith in human nature.” This statement justifies the instablity and chaos that the mindsets of the characters undergo during the partition, especiallythe Ice-Candy Man.The partition of the sub-continent is like the background music of the novel which channelizes the preference and emotions of people from all sects of the society. Ice-Candy Man is a complex character and the way he represents humanity is something that the ordinary man carries and at the same time he is ignorant of it. He is an embodiment of binary oppositions: good and evil, love and hatred, peace and violence, friendly and reserved, pleasant and unpleasant, sensibility and insanity. However, he is not an amalgam of these attributes at the same time. Infact, he is a victim of the changing circumstances and from positvity he eventually starts to exhibit negative traits.The recurring phrase, “the pitiless face of love” aptly suits his character. However, his character development contains the element of cause and effect. As Aristotle says, “All causes are beginnings”. Therefore, the train from Gurdaspur loaded with heaps of dead bodies and womens’ breasts becomes the cause that paves way to unleash the evil within him. In a rage, he confesses to the Government House Gardener that the sight of the train containing dead Muslims has changed him and he is not reluctant in killing even his acquiantances. It is substantiated when he deceives his love Ayaah by abducting her and forcing her into prostitution. He is candid about his hatred and fanaticism for other communities. Thereby, we observe that the external event, i.e. the partiton internalizes and changes his perception which in turn externalizes in the form of violence and suspicion. As a result, he becomes averse to all who do not belong to his community. The conflict between the rational and the illogical is meticulously defined in his mental agony.Partition signifies the disintegration of individual selfhood and the development of a mass-consciousness or will, which disrupted individual self-development. The Aayah who is the nucleus of the circle of various religions portrays the hybridity and complexity of the society. However, the competitors of her love are initially jealous of each other on sexual basis but with the atrocities being committed by numerous sects in the backdrop; suddenly make them aware of their respective religious identities and practices. Soon, “one man’s religion becomes another man’s poison.” Lenny says, “The change was sudden.”Hence, religion transformed into politics and became a matter of psychological egoism. Jokes were formed inorder to ridicule other religions. Imam Din and Yousaf started to take Friday afternoons off to offer Juma prayers. Similarly, Aayah visited temples and offered joss sticks and flowers to gods. A Brahmin pandit disowns his food when he feels that it has been corrupted by the shadow of an alien religious identity. In the tense communal situation, people felt an urge to keep and sharpen their weapons. Moreover, Aayah’s perception towards the Pathan also goes through a vivid change as she acts calmly in his presence. The term, “Sikh” is used for Sher Singh because Sikhism is his religion and he would represent all Sikhs.Within a broad climate of inherited culture, there are endless variations: each individual differs from the other in outlook and day-to-day religious philosophy. Thus, one incident creates havoc among humanity and things eventually fall apart. It is through the character of Ice-Candy Man that the author effectively communicates the frenzy and madness that jolted the people during the time of partition. On the other hand, we also tend to learn that one must synchronize as he evolves. Otherwise, the negative percetions towards others can transform one into a beast. Indeed, the novel is a trustworthy guide to the heart and mind of human-beings.

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